Preventive Care Can Lead to Lower Veterinary Costs and a Longer Lifespan for Dogs & Cats
Feb. 4, 2015 — Veterinary Pet Insurance Co. (VPI), the nation’s first and largest provider of pet health insurance, marks February as Pet Dental Health Month by reminding pet parents about the importance of regular dental care for their four-legged family members.
In 2014, VPI policyholders spent more than $12.2 million on dental conditions and procedures, the fourth most common type of claim submitted to the company last year and an eight percent increase from the previous year.
Preventive oral care is not only necessary for pets, it’s a financially sound choice for pet owners. In 2014, the average claim amount for pet teeth cleaning was $171. In contrast, the average claim amount for treating dental-related disease was $212. Periodontal disease, a condition caused by residual food, bacteria and tartar that collect in the spaces between the gum and tooth, accounted for the most dental claims received by VPI last year— more than 26,800. Tooth infections, inclusive of cavities and abscesses, accounted for the second most common dental-related claims, totaling more than 14,200. Infections of the teeth are typically the result of untreated tooth decay, cracked or fractured teeth, or severe periodontal disease.
Poor dental care can also be linked to severe health issues and shorter lifespans in dogs and cats. The bacteria associated with tartar buildup and periodontal disease can contribute to heart, liver and kidney problems.
According to the American Veterinary Medical Association (AVMA), an organization dedicated to advancing the science and art of veterinary medicine, 80 percent of dogs and 70 percent of cats show signs of oral disease by the age of three. VPI encourages pet parents to have their pets’ oral health evaluated bi-annually by a veterinarian.
“Regular veterinary examinations are critical because they include an oral health and dental evaluation, just like when we go to the dentist,” says Carol McConnell, DVM, MBA, vice president and chief veterinary medical officer for VPI. “To help off-set the costs of preventive oral care, VPI offer’s Everyday Care plans that help cover procedures like dental cleaning. Your veterinarian may also recommend brushing your pets’ teeth between veterinary visits, with the goal of preventing a buildup of tartar along your pets’ gum line. Tartar can lead to inflammation or pain when the gums or mouth are touched, even during the simple process of eating.”
The AVMA’s list of signs that dental disease has already started in a dog or cat includes:
- Red swollen gums or brownish-yellow tartar on teeth
- Bad breath
- Bleeding from the mouth
- Frequent pawing or rubbing at the face and/or mouth
- Reluctance to eat – for example, picking it up and then spitting it out
Pet Dental Health Fast Facts:
- Puppies have 28 temporary teeth that begin to show at about 3 to 4 weeks of age
- They have 42 permanent teeth that generally grow in between 5 to 7 months of age
- Periodontal disease is the most common dental issue among dogs
- Kittens have 26 temporary teeth that begin to show at about 2 to 3 weeks of age
- They have 30 permanent teeth that generally grow in by 5 to 6 months of age
- Other dental issues that are common in cats include tooth resorption and ulcerative stomatitis
About Veterinary Pet Insurance
With more than 525,000 pets insured nationwide, Veterinary Pet Insurance Co./DVM Insurance Agency (VPI), a Nationwide company, is the first and largest pet health insurance provider in the United States. Since 1982, VPI has helped provide pet owners with peace of mind and is committed to being the trusted choice of America’s pet lovers.
VPI plans cover dogs, cats, birds and exotic pets for multiple medical problems and conditions relating to accidents, illnesses and injuries. Wellness coverage for routine care is available for an additional premium. Medical plans are available in all 50 states and theDistrict of Columbia. Additionally, one in three Fortune 500 companies offers VPI Pet Insurance as an employee benefit.
Insurance plans are offered and administered by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company in California and DVM Insurance Agency in all other states. Underwritten by Veterinary Pet Insurance Company (CA), Brea, CA, an A.M. Best A rated company (2013); National Casualty Company (all other states), Madison, WI, an A.M. Best A+ rated company (2014). Veterinary Pet Insurance, VPI and the cat/dog logo are service marks of Veterinary Pet Insurance Company. Pet owners can find VPI on Facebook or follow @VPI on Twitter. For more information about VPI, call 800-USA-PETS (800-872-7387) or visit petinsurance.com.